AN off-duty police officer who crashed into a parked car and a bollard on his way home from a night shift has been convicted of careless driving.
PC Anthony Beckett lost control of his blue Mercedes-Benz GLC 250 as he drove along Church Street in Colne just before 7-30am on May 21 last year. A serving officer with more than 13 years’ service – initially as a PCSO and then as a constable – he was heading home after a night‘s work with Lancashire Constabulary’s tactical operations team.
There were no eyewitnesses to the crash. But two CCTV cameras captured the moment his car drifted left before ploughing into a stationary Vauxhall and a bollard. There were no injuries although significant damage was caused both to 31-year-old Beckett’s Mercedes and the Vauxhall. The bollard was uprooted.
Beckett denied a careless driving charge, but was convicted today (MON) after a trial held in neighbouring Cumbria.
North and West Cumbria Magistrates’ Court in Carlisle heard two other officers who were called to the crash scene minutes afterwards recalled “mixed” morning weather that day – “cloudy with breaks in sunshine”.
Beckett said in evidence his vision was affected by sunlight during a “sudden break in the cloud”, and described taking one hand, his right, off the wheel to pull down an overhead visor. “As I have come around the corner, the sun has dazzled,” he recalled, saying of the collision: “Then there is impact. It’s almost instantaneous.”
Prosecutor Andy Travers asked Beckett whether it was possible he had, momentarily, “dozed off”.
“I wouldn’t have suggested so,” replied Beckett, a man of good character with no points on his driving licence. “No. Because that’s not what happened otherwise that would have been said.”
After hearing all evidence, District Judge Gerald Chalk concluded: “I’m wholly satisfied that Mr Beckett is guilty of this offence.
“Mr Beckett says he was dazzled. CCTV evidence does not, in my view, support that assertion, and in any event Mr Beckett knew the road. The basic rule is that you do not keep going if you can’t see where you’re travelling to.”
District Judge Chalk added: “I don’t know what caused the lapse in concentration but there has been a failure in driving and it has resulted in an accident, and Mr Beckett’s driving did fall below the standard of a careful and competent driver.”
Beckett of Bent Lane, Colne was fined £250, was ordered to pay £625 court costs and a £32 victim surcharge, and given three points on his driving licence.